Let me start this post by saying that in discussing obsessive-compulsive tendencies I am in no way making light of the fact that true OCD is a definite, sometimes devastating disorder that I’m sure is terrible for those suffering with it. These days it seems convenient to “throw around” mental health terms; for example, it seems every few days I read or hear of someone saying they were so bothered by something that they had a “panic attack,” when they’ve never known the sheer terror or frightening physical symptoms of a true panic attack at all.
But I wonder how many of us have little obsessive-compulsive habits that make us wonder about ourselves sometimes. These habits aren’t enough to interfere with our lives, but doing them helps us feel more comfortable, and sometimes amuses those we live with, if they happen to notice them.
For instance, I have a tendency to count how many times I do things. Most of the time I don’t realize I’m doing it right away. I noticed this the other day when I was putting on some makeup. When applying blusher to my cheeks, I count the number of strokes I use and make sure I use the same number of strokes on each side. The same goes for eye shadow, though not for mascara or eyebrow pencil; don’t ask me why. And I drink some water before I go to bed, counting 8 swallows of water; I don’t know why I chose 8.
I also have to make sure my pillows are equidistant from either edge of the bed before I go to sleep, measuring it with my hands. And as for my daughter, she says when she pays for something in cash, she feels she has to count the change over and over several times before giving it to the salesperson, and then fears it still might be wrong.
I don’t fear that I’m developing OCD; I just happen to notice these things and find them amusing, and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable not to do them. So some nights I drink 9 swallows of water instead. Or put an extra stroke of blusher on one cheek. Just to prove to myself that I don’t have to do any certain number of things.
What do you do that resembles obsessive-compulsive tendencies? I have a compulsive need to know…